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John Morris

I'm a Developer at WishList products, creators of WishList Member, instructor for the WishList Member Certified Developers program, and creator of numerous WordPress plugins and PHP applications.

The 80/20 rule of web development

I once did this YouTube video.

It was called the “Exact PHP Skills You Need to Learn to Get Paid to Code.” The idea was there’s all these things you think you need to learn or you get told by some ranting know-it-all that you need to learn…

But, in reality…

You only use a small fraction of those skills on a regular basis.

So, I made a list of the things you’ll use most often as a PHP developer.

The things that make up 90% of the coding I do.

Variables, arrays, loops…

That sort of thing.

It’s been funny to watch the comments over the years. Predictably, a hoard of know-it-alls have chimed in with their “but, but”. “You need to learn OOP and form security and Laravel…”

It always turns into this massive “wish list”.

And sure… learn those things.

But, that wasn’t the point.

The point is… what’s the absolute bare minimum to get started?

Because, the reality is with any language or technical skill, there’s a 20% of all the skills you could learn that you’ll actually use 80% of the time in your work. So, why learn some random thing you’ll use twice a year… when you’re starting?

And ignore or spend less time on something you’ll use over and over again?

You shouldn’t.

Of course, the trick is figuring out that 20%.

Which was the point of the video.

Thankfully, most people get it.

I’ve had probably 10 times as many positive comments like this:

“I’ve been coding for two years, read almost every book you could read cover to cover. I knew the languages and even how to use them, but I felt as if I had to be perfect and and that I needed to remember every tag, property and function to be considered a professional. I was anxious that my skills were not up to par, but listening to your podcast had helped me realize I have the skills to be professional web developer. Thanks man.”

Which was the entire point.

To free you up from that “perfection trap”.

Thinking you need to learn 1000 things before you can get hired.

You don’t.

In any case, I think that’s why my students tend to have success coming out of my PHP course. Because, I teach them the things that they’ll actually use in their jobs, not 1000 obscure things they’ll use once or twice…

But, that make me look smart.

I don’t care about me.

It’s YOU that matters.

Anyway, if you wanna take my PHP course, you can get access to it for nothing over on Skillshare. And yes… when you’re done with it, you can jump into my PHP OOP course and the other advanced PHP courses I have, as well.

They’re all over there.

And, you can access them all for free.

Link for all the details on how is here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/skillshare

Later,

John

March 21, 2019

JMS389: I Grew My Business 500%

Just uploaded a new episode of the podcast. Here’s the breakdown:

When it comes to freelance marketing, this is the most important thing I can teach you. It’s not sexy or flashy. In fact, it’s a lot of hard work. But, it’s the one thing I know I can rely on year after year, no matter the scenario. And since I started doing it, my business has grown over 500%. So, take it for what it’s worth to you.

Give it a listen here: https://www.johnmorrisshow.com/jms389-i-grew-my-business-500/

March 20, 2019

This is how I grew my business over 500%

Question:

“What are you doing TODAY to market your freelance business?”

If you can’t answer…

Or, the answer is a little vague…

Or, something you’re still figuring out…

Whatever income woes you might be experiencing, I can point you to the culprit. The reality is: no marketing = no business. This is the simplest, yet most effective, “freelance marketing” advice I can give you:

Do it daily.

Let me give you an example…

People often get horrified when they find out that I mail my mailing list on a daily basis. Sure, I miss some days here and there, but it’s not intentional. And on the whole… I probably send 330-340 emails in a 365-day year.

It’s a LOT…

To most people.

And, they always ask:

“Don’t people get annoyed?”

“Aren’t you gonna burn out your list?”

“You must get a lot of unsubscribes?”

And, my answer is always the same: I don’t know, probably. But, since I started mailing daily, my business has grown over 500%. And, it’s directly attributable to switching to sending daily emails.

So, theoretically, you might be right…

But, practically, no way in hell I’d ever go back.

But, here’s the real kicker…

For the first few years I did this, I was awful at it. I go back and look at some of those emails and cringe. They’re awful. Even today, I’m not some genius copywriter or marketer. I’m always learning and trying to get better.

But, through all that… the business just keeps growing.

Not because I’m a genius…

Not because I have it all figured out…

Not because I’m this super charismatic marketer…

Nope.

It’s because I show up… every day.

That’s it.

Now, yes. Over the years, I’ve developed a system for doing this to maximize my reach and influence as much as possible. To reach the widest possible audience and, more importantly, to actually sell my s!@#.

So, I get the most out of everything I do.

And, that’s one of the things I teach you in my Beginner’s Guide to Freelance course… how to build out a reliable online system for getting new clients, delivering like a pro and getting repeat business and referrals.

It’s the hard-learned lessons from 15 years as a freelancer.

Anyway, if you wanna learn those lessons, you can get access to the course for nothing over on Skillshare. All the details on how to do that are here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/skillshare

Later,

John​​​​​​

March 20, 2019

Walmart and the most important freelancing skill you can learn

Sam Walton started in the first Walmart in Rogers, Arkansas.

If you look, today, the population is about 66,000… but back then it was just 5,700. And, he did this despite the prevailing wisdom at the time that a mass retailer needed to be started in a big city, otherwise it would fail.

But, Walton actually listened to his customers.

He knew that consumers in rural areas often bought in larger quantities because they had larger families and took fewer trips to the store. The result is, of course, the largest retailer on the planet, today.

Listening to your customers/clients is important.

But, that’s often not the road-block.

Let me give you another example.

Back in the early 2000s, about 3-4 years before Groupon launched, I was just getting into web development, but still working my old job at a local pizza chain in Iowa. And, I had this idea.

I noticed how effective coupons were at getting customers in the door.

And, I’d built a coupon membership site for the company I worked at. We advertised in on the local radio and built up a membership of about 500 people. Which, for that town, was about 5% of the population.

And, once a week or so, we’d send out a new coupon.

And, it’d bring people just flooding in.

It was kinda crazy how well it worked.

Anyway, after a few times of doing this, I thought “I could do this for all the local businesses around here.” And, I started building a whole new website that I’d planned on pitching to those companies.

I never finished it.

Doubt started to creep in.

There were a few technical problems I had to figure out.

And, eventually, I just gave up on it.

Imagine my horror a few years later when Groupon blew up. I thought of that first! But, they executed on it. And, that’s the lesson, today. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Listening to your clients is great.

Coming up with new insights and ideas… awesome.

But, it’s doing it that actually matters.

And, quite often, that comes down to trusting your gut.

Imagine if Sam Walton, knowing everything he knew about rural America’s buying behavior, had decided to ignore his gut and just go with the prevailing wisdom. Would Walmart even exist, today?

We’ll never know.

Because he did and it does.

Anyway, this is the most important thing you can learn how to do as a freelancer… hone your instincts and learn to trust them. And, you do that by getting out of your head, trying new ideas and letting the chips fall where they may.

Not being afraid to fail. Not substituting other people’s thinking for your own. Sure, learn from others. But, always, trust your thinking over theirs until you’re proven wrong by your own action. Then, adjust.

Do that… and eventually, you’ll figure one thing out.

Then another.

And another.

And, before you know it, you’ll have a whole system for getting clients, delivering, repeat business, referrals, all of it. That’s what I did starting 15 years ago… and what’s lead me to where I am, today.

Having worked on projects for people like Tim Ferriss…

And, Inc. Magazine.

And, dozens of others.

In any case, if you want a jump-start and want to fast-track that learning curve by learning what I picked up over all those years and experiences, check out my Beginner’s Guide to Freelance course.

All the details on the course and how to get free access are here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/freelance

Later,

John

March 19, 2019

The fastest way to learn development

I’ve mentioned before…

How PHP was my first language and it took me nearly five years to learn it to a point I could perform job-wise with it. Yeah, that was in the early 2000s when training resources were pretty much non-existent.

But still…

I made a lot of mistakes.

And with the way things are now…

You can’t afford to spend that much time learning a language.

Hell, React is just 5 years old now.

And, it’s all but taken over the JavaScript world.

In any case, I learned my lesson with PHP and when it came time to learn jQuery (back in the day), it took me about 30 days to get functional with it. These are the things I changed that made the difference.

Scope.

The first thing you need to do is figure out the “what”. The big picture “these are the skills I need to learn” to do XYZ with this language, framework, whatever. Big thing here is to be realistic.

You don’t need to learn everything right now.

Chunk it out.

And, keep the scope small enough you can actually get through it.

Next, you need a metric.

This is maybe the most critical part. Too often, I see developers get caught in this endless cycle of learning. Never really knowing how far they’ve come or where to stop or pause. It’s just on and on.

Waiting for some magic moment…

When they’ll feel “good enough”.

It doesn’t happen that way.

For each “chunk” or “phase” of learning, you need to have some way to determine IF you’ve learned the skills you set out to learn. So, “If I can build an HTML form that successfully submit data to a MySQL database without help.”

Or, “I can build a website template from scratch.”

Whatever it is.

You need some way of knowing you’ve finished that “phase”.

Next is resources.

HOW are you going to learn these skills? YouTube videos, Udemy courses, signing up for a site like Lynda or Skillshare, books. Again, whatever resources you prefer. But, map this out BEFORE you just dive into a bunch of courses.

Make sure they’ll teach you what you need to learn.

And, don’t get distracted by “bright, shiny objects”.

A big part of learning fast is discipline.

Next, is your final plan. “I’m going to learn these XYZ skills. My metric is ABC thing I will be able to do. I’ll be taking the GHI course to learn how. And, my goal is to learn all this in 30 days.”

I’m telling you…

IF you can get that straight in your head BEFORE you start…

You’re going to learn so much faster than you’re used to.

The final thing, then, is to “learn by doing”.

Development is not a spectator sport.

You can only do so much reading or watching. The #1 trait a developer has to have in order to be successful is a willingness to break things… then, figure out how to fix them. That IS the underlying ethos, so to speak, of our industry.

A bunch of people breaking existing things…

In order to make new things.

So, there you go…

Like I said.

You follow what I just showed you…

And, I’m telling you…

You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can learn new things.

Speaking of the resources part, this is one of the reasons I really love and put all my courses over on Skillshare. We are in an industry that is constantly evolving and new things are coming out all the time.

And, we have to keep up.

Having a learning platform where you just get access to everything (over 21,000 courses) makes it a lot easier to stay committed to constantly learning and upgrading your skillset… without paying through the nose for it.

Anyway, as a teacher there, I can give you an *exclusive* 2-month free trial of the site. You’ll get full access to all my web development and freelancing courses (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, MySQL, WordPress)…

Plus all 21,000 other courses on the site.

If you’re interested, you can learn more about it here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/skillshare

Later,

John

March 12, 2019

The Al Bundy Method for selling your freelance services more easily

I used to sell shoes.

Was damn good at it, too. In fact, I made it through the company’s 18-month manager training program in just over 9 months. In my first store, as a manager, I was the #3 selling manager in one of the smallest stores in the chain.

And, I broke several store sales records along the way.

Anyway, we had this thing we did.

Out of Al Bundy’s bag of “tricks” if you will.

Let me give you an example.

“This is an XYZ Brand shoe. You’ll notice the high quality leather upper. The better the leather, the more it breathes and flexes over time. So, your feet don’t get hot and sweaty and the shoe will mold to fit your foot as you wear it.”

Here’s another.

“This shoe has a polyurethane outsole. The nice thing about polyurethane compared to a standard rubber outsole is it’s much lighter weight and more flexible while still being nearly as durable. So, your shoes won’t feel like they weight 1000 pounds, you’ll be lighter on your feet and less fatigued… without giving up durability.”

This is what we called the “FAB” technique.

Feature. Advantage. Benefit.

Leather upper. Polyurethane outsole.

That’s the feature.

And, it’s important because it’s something real and tangible you can point to about your product. Starting with it makes whatever you say more believable because your customer can see it right in front of them.

Lighter. More flexible. Breathes better.

These are all advantages.

Characteristics OF the feature that make it better.

This is the key link between the feature and the benefit.

It makes your benefit “make sense”.

And, not just sound like sales-speak.

Finally, the benefit. Less fatigue, more comfortable shoe, durability, feet that aren’t hot and sweaty… these are what the features and advantages MEAN to the customer and, ultimately, the only thing they really care about.

BUT…

You can’t just speak in benefits, otherwise it seems empty. By following this chain from real, tangible feature to ultimate benefit, you create a “logical path” that makes your sales presentation believable and real.

I sold hundreds of thousands of dollars of shoes this way.

So, think about how you can do this with your freelance services.

That said, this is one smaller part of the bigger technique which is to “productize” your services. And, you want to do that for a lot of the same reasons. It makes your services more real and believable to potential clients.

It makes your services fit more naturally with what your clients actually want.

Making them easier to sell.

Plus, it decouples your services from time.

So, you can charge more while working less.

Anyway, this is one of the things I cover (Lesson 5) in the first installment of my Freelancing 101 series called “What Services to Offer”. I teach you how to productize your services, pricing, picking the right niche, what services to offer and more.

As always, you can get access to it for nothing over on SkillShare.

As a teacher there, I can offer you an *exclusive* 2-month free trial of the site. So, just start the trial, take the course (plus any of the 21,000 other courses on the site) and just cancel before the 2 months is up.

And, you never pay a penny.

If you’re interested, the link with all the details is here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/niche

Later,

John

March 11, 2019

Why you’ll never make it as a developer

I was watching this YouTube video the other day.

Guy was a home-builder and he was talking about siding… some of the stuff he does to insulate and protect homes. And, when you look at his stuff, the finished product, it’s obvious… guy knows what he’s doing.

The homes look amazing.

The videos are really good.

He has several hundred thousand subscribers.

It all seemed amazing.

And then, you check the comments…

What a horror show. 300 response threads of people arguing over what he said at 5:18. Or, one-liners like “Idiot”. Several hundred comments and there were maybe a handful of positive ones.

Even though the like to dislike ratio was extremely positive.

Video had millions of views.

That should tell you something about people.

This is something you’ll have to face as a developer. A client, a co-worker, a customer, friends, family… as someone who creates things and puts themselves out in a vulnerable way for others to evaluate…

The majority of what you’ll hear will be negative.

It took me a long time to figure that out.

I used to get so upset and insecure about it.

When I’d create some thing, proudly show it to a client… and they’d give a quick “Oh nice.” And then rattle off a list of 10 things they’d like changed or “fixed”. It’s tough. But, you gotta learn how to handle it.

Primarily, you have to learn how to ignore most of it.

You can have all the talent in the world.

But, if you let other people’s opinions get to you…

You’ll never make it as a developer.

You’ll drive yourself nuts.

The big key to that is having your own perspective.

Developing your own opinions with time.

Having your own standards.

Being an artist with what you do.

When you do that, you naturally don’t worry what others think.

You only really care about what you think.

Because your standards are higher than theirs.

In any case, take that for what it’s worth today. Just struck me as I came across the video. I remembered all those little moments of pain I went through and how learning to ignore them made such a difference in my career (and life).

Speaking of careers…

If you’re in the learning phase of yours and HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, OOP or MySQL is on the list, let me give you a hand. My curriculum on SkillShare will teach you those things and more.

And, you can get access to it for free.

All the details on that are here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/skillshare

Later,

John

March 8, 2019

What languages and frameworks to learn as a new developer

One of Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Effective People” is:

“Begin with the end in mind.”

When you do, what you need to do now becomes much more clear. It’s the same with your web development career. A lot of people ask me what languages they should learn and what order they should learn them in.

The real answer is:

I don’t know.

That depends on your end.

Here’s what I mean.

If you want to work at Google, for example, Golang might be something you wanted to learn since it’s developed by Google. If you want to work at Facebook, you might dive into learning Hack and React.

But, if you’re a freelancer…

None of those languages will help you all that much.

A lot of start-ups use Node.

Java is big in the corporate world.

See where I’m going with this? Depending on what career path you want to take, different languages are going to be more or less important. The truth of this is there’s no one path… contrary to what some of the know-it-alls in the dev community say.

But, even taking a step back from that.

Frameworks and applications affect this, too.

If you want to work with WordPress, you’ll need to learn PHP.

If you really like Django, then probably oughta learn Python.

Node, Angular and Vue? Learn JavaScript.

The thing to think about is this:

“On a daily basis, what are the kinds of projects I want to work on? Who do I want to work on them for? And, what tools do I want to use?” When you figure that out, the languages you need to learn become obvious.

And no.

Your answers probably won’t be perfect the first time.

You’ll try this and hate it.

Realize you love this other thing you thought you’d hate.

Etc.

But, if you just keep assessing it.

Keep asking the right questions.

You’ll settle into a groove.

The one thing you absolutely DO NOT want to do is waste your time trying to find the “one right path” or over-worrying about career prospects and all that. COBOL is almost 60 years old and largely obsolete.

Yet, there’s still over 1,000 COBOL jobs on Indeed.com right now.

In any case, if you think it through and HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and MySQL are in your “stack”, then check out my curriculum over on SkillShare. I’ll teach you all that and you can get access to it for free.

Link for all the details on that is at: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/skillshare

Later,

John​​​​​​

March 7, 2019

What my dog taught me about making more as a freelancer

I took my dog to the vet to get spayed the other day.

The week prior when I called, I got a masterclass in selling your services.

As I explained what I needed, one of the first things they asked me was, “Is it a stray?” Our dog, Marley, is. A neighbor rescued her, but wasn’t able to take care of her, so we took her from him.

Because of that, the animal clinic gave us 40 bucks off.

That’s lesson #1.

The hook.

When I called I was just gathering information. I was going to call a couple clinics in the area, compare prices and then set an appointment with one. But, once they offered me that deal…

I just went with them.

A lot of the clinics probably offer similar discounts, but it was a surprise to me. And, gave me a compelling reason to just go with them right then and there and not hassle with calling around and comparing prices.

I was already “getting a good deal”.

Then, came the cross-sell.

“Has your dog had a rabies shot?”

Damn.

No.

I should do that, too.

Then, when I dropped her off for the appointment, I had to sign a surgical release. The clinic (brilliantly) mingled that release with the contract for their services and included 4 optional additions to the services.

Blood work to check for any problems.

Heartwork check.

Pain medication to take home after the surgery.

And, post-op laser therapy to help everything heal faster.

Two of which I opted for.

So, they took me from “just looking” and planning on comparing prices to not only a client, but one who opted for a cross-sell and two upsells. And, I appreciated and enjoyed every part of it.

Because they were all things I wanted.

All they had to do was ask.

And, of course, know their clients so well they knew exactly what additional services to offer and how to pitch them. But, here’s the big lesson I want you to take away from this. It’s an animal clinic.

A service that’s, frankly, kinda boring.

Been around forever.

Nothing super “secksy” or exciting to sell.

And, this stuff works to perfection for them. And, that’s the point. When it comes to selling your services, there’s very little new under the sun. You could be selling inter-galactic, hyper-transport beams…

Or sand.

What works… works.

You just have to know it and then apply it.

And, that’s what I teach you in my Beginner’s Guide to Freelance course. Those tried and true fundamentals that aren’t necessarily rocket surgery or some shiny, flashy, “brilliant” gimmick… but work no matter what services you offer.

And, we talk about hooks and cross-sells and upsells…

And, how to do them right.

Getting referrals.

Turning one-time clients into repeat clients.

Handling contracts and payments.
On and on and on.

Anyway, if you wanna learn those fundamentals, you can get access to the course for nothing over on SkillShare. As a teacher, I can give an *exclusive* 2-month free trial of the site. Just join the trial, take the course and cancel before the trial is up…

And, you never pay a penny.

Simple, simple.

In any case, link is here if you’re interested: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/freelance

Later,

John

March 5, 2019

How to price your freelance projects

Another common question I get, this time from Gary:

“Sir, I’m a self taught web developer with no job experience. My question about freelancing is how to price a website? For example do I need to let the client pay for the hosting website and etc.”

Perceived quality.

Note the emphasis on perceived. Here’s the analogy I use. Imagine you need to get a medical procedure done. So, you go to the nearest clinic. As you pull up, you notice the clinic is in a sketchy part of town.

The parking lot is cracked and littered with trash.

The clinic’s sign is old and missing letters.

The front door has big, iron bars on it.

Once you get inside, you see the office is dirty. The carpet is stained and ripped in spots. The receptionist is rude and unkempt-looking. The doctor comes out and his clothes are wrinkled. He’s got a stain on his shirt–

So, at what point do you say, “Oh hell no!”

Now, notice…

NONE of the things I mentioned had anything to do with his SKILL as a doctor. Instead, they were all “circumstantial” factors that make him look unprofessional and, therefore, unskilled.

He could be the best doctor for 100 miles.

But, you’d probably never get far enough to find out.

THAT is perceived quality.

Your website, your profile picture, your portfolio, the content you produce… every little thing a potential client sees in relation to you goes toward how good they PERCEIVE you to be… the good and the bad.

And, that has a huge impact on what you can charge.

Fact is, if you do all these things right…

You can charge way more for the SAME service…

Than someone who doesn’t.

So, don’t waste your time trying to find some “intrinsic” price for a particular service. Freelancers in the same market, offering the exact same services charge vastly different prices. And, perceived quality is a big reason why.

But, that’s 1 factor.

Competition also matters.

More (quality) competition means tighter pricing.

There’s also differentiation.

Do you stand out in some way?

But, here’s the more important point. Pricing is actually just one aspect of the thing that really matters… and that is the OFFER. It’s not just what something costs… it’s also “What am I getting? How is it delivered?”

It’s the client’s internal ROI gauge.

And, learning how to craft compelling offers is one of the most important and lucrative things you can learn how to do, as a freelancer. Because when you get it right, you not only make more, but selling your services actually gets easier.

In any case, I created a whole course on this.

That’s how important it is.

In it, you’ll learn what I call the “Fiverr Method” which is step 1 in how you package your services to make them more appealing to potential clients. Also, the 3 different pricing strategies you can use to beat out your competition.

How to KNOW, not guess, what the right price is.

Plus, how to build out your product line…

To methodically build a diverse and stable freelance income.

Anyway, the course is the first installment in my Freelancing 101 series and you can get access to it for nothing over on SkillShare. Link for all the details on the course and how to get free access to it is here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/niche

Later,

John

March 4, 2019

What tricks most NEW developers

There’s a saying:

“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”

Wise words particularly for new developers. By far, the most common questions I get about becoming a developer relate to getting started… what languages to learn, courses to take, tools to install, etc.

But, the truth is…

Picking “right”, on any of these questions, is not what separates successful developers from unsuccessful ones. It’s having A plan and executing on it, not spending forever devising the “perfect” plan.

Take Lynda.com, for example.

When Lynda Weinman first started the site back in 1995, it was built to let her communicate with people who’d bought here book, Designing Web Graphics. By 1997, it morphed into a sales site for in-person classes.

It wasn’t until the dot-com crash that they considered doing online video.

In 2001, after the crash, business started to slow up.

They were forced to lay off 75% of their staff.

And, THAT’S when Lynda.com, as you probably know it, was born. Then, in April of 2015, it was acquired by LinkedIn for 1.5 billion. Point is, her plan wasn’t perfect. But, she got started.

And evolved and adapted along the way.

THAT is the name of the game.

So, early on in your career, you should be dabbling.

Trying all sorts of things to figure out what you really enjoy…

And, what you’re really good at.

ACTION brings clarity… not endlessly thinking and re-thinking.

In any case, this is why SkillShare is so appealing to me, especially for new developers. Unlike Udemy and other similar sites, you get access to the entire library of courses for a low monthly fee.

So, you can dabble without worrying about wasting a bunch of money.

Or, obsessing over which courses to take.

It’s like the “Netflix for online learning”…

And, a perfect fit for today’s constantly-evolving technology environment.

Anyway, if you wanna give it a try and get FULL access to all 21,000 courses, including my own web development curriculum, I can give you an *exclusive* 2-month free trial of the site.

Link with all the details on that are here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/skillshare.

Later,

John

February 11, 2019

How to start your web development career on a rock-solid foundation

Two terms you’ll want to write down for today.

First one: Skill-Stacking.

You know this, but probably haven’t thought of it this way. A lot of developers ask me what they should learn. The real answer: ALL of it. The more skills you stack in your arsenal, the more valuable you’ll be to employers.

And, more importantly, the more adaptable you’ll be when s!@# changes.

And, s!@# changes… a lot.

You shouldn’t be stingy about what you learn in the beginning.

Learn it all.

Stack, stack, stack.

Second term: Credibility-Stacking.

This one I don’t think near as many people think about. A lot of times you’re just desperate to get a job or get paid to do this. But, you need to have discipline. And, patience. Stacking your credentials properly early on will make this WAY easier.

There’s several different “categories” of credibility to stack.

It starts right off the bat with your training.

If you’re going to a college or university, pick one with a prestigious name. Or, clout in the industry you want to get into. Going to the #1 tech school in America sounds way better than going to A school with A tech program.

Think strategic right from the start.

Next companies and clients.

Really think about who you work with.

Pick companies with a brand name or clients who are well-known. Yes, I know… you gotta GET those jobs. But, here’s a simple one. IBM tends to hire like crazy, hires junior developers with little experience and has a good brand name.

So, if all else fails… apply there.

Next is volume.

Saying you’ve built 113 membership sites has a certain ring to it.

An whiff of credibility.

You don’t need to tell anybody that 60 of those were sites you built just to build so you could say you built 113. Actually build them and do the work… but a build is a build is a build is a build.

In any case, hardly anybody thinks about this stuff.

But, the start of your career shouldn’t be about money.

It should be skill-stacking and credibility-stacking.

Do it. Do it aggressively. Do it right.

And, by year 5… things will start getting REAL easy.

AND THEN, the money will come.

Anyway, you know the drill. I’ve got a curriculum of coding courses if you need help learning HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP or MySQL. CSS Grid, AJAX, CSS transitions, OOP. Whatever. It’s all there.

And, you can take it for nothing on SkillShare.

All the details on how are here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/skillshare

Later,

John​​​​​

February 7, 2019

How to THINK like a developer

What makes a developer truly a developer?

I’ll give you my answer in a second.

But think about that as you read this…

So, I got this email question from Mike:

“I’m stuck at a beginner level. I’ve followed tons of tutorials and did a 3 month full time web dev boot camp. But I cant seem to get past the hurdle of being able to write a program myself. I consistently fail interview tests as my programming logic skills are low. I seem to be stuck at this beginner level. I need to learn how to think like a programmer…. Any ideas or tips?”

Think about that.

It actually doesn’t make sense, does it?

How does someone spend that much time learning and still not be able to sit down and crank out an application? Shouldn’t be that way. And, I’ll just tell you from the emails I get… he’s not alone.

Is this something YOU have struggled with?

If so, let me tell you how this happens.

It’s one of the “dirty secrets” of the coding tutorial industry.

I know that sounds a bit “Ok, whatever”…

But, I really, truly believe this.

It’s the problem with project-based courses, which I absolutely think have their place, BTW. But, when you follow along as someone else builds a program, you don’t have to solve all the little programming problems that come up.

They’re solved for you.

It’s very rare that an instructor even mentions those problems…

Let alone makes YOU solve them.

They just run through the code and show you what to type.

A good one might mention them off-hand.

But, almost nobody labors over those points.

Because, frankly, coding students don’t like it.

They don’t think they need it.

When they absolutely DO.

So, what happens is you never learn how to connect problems to applications and vice versa. That’s WHY you can go through a crap-ton of training, but feel lost when you sit down to write an application.

If all you’ve ever done is project-based courses…

Or, haven’t specifically learned application design…

Then, you’ve actually never done this part of it.

And, here’s the kicker… that’s the most important part.

This is the analogy I use…

Imagine a painter who learns all the technical parts of painting a landscape. Trees, mountains, water, grass, etc. That’s good. You need to know those. But, will knowing those make you good at composition?

At putting all those things together into a painting…

That elicits emotion?

That makes people say “WOW”?

That has a perspective?

Does a well-executed tree make someone a true ARTIST?

It’s part of it, but it’s not all. It’s not the main thing. It’s the ability to capture moments and elicit emotion. To have a point-of-view AND THEN be able to execute on that point of view.

It’s having an “eye” for it.

It’s similar with web development.

What makes you a developer…

Is your ability to identify problems.

Come up with new ideas for solving them in better ways.

AND THEN, execute on those solutions.

And, that’s what you miss with most project-based courses. To me, the answer is to learn application design. To understand how to connect problems to their solutions and how to design applications from scratch.

This is precisely why I named my OOP course, Build Professional Applications With Object-Oriented Programming. Object-oriented programming IS the/a method for application design. And, a damn good one.

When you understand it…

And, how it connects to object modelling.

And, database structure.

The code almost literally writes itself. Again, I know that sounds hypey, but that’s WHY so many people swear by OOP. Because, it gives you a way forward for designing your applications.

You don’t have to guess.

Or wonder.

Or stare blankly at your code editor.

You know where to start and how to proceed at every step.

There’s still problems to work through.

Always.

But, you have a road map for how to get your application built.

Anyway, all this is what Lesson 11 in my object-oriented programming course takes on. Teaching you how to design applications in the most scalable, modular and efficient way possible.

If you’ve found yourself dealing with “blank screen” syndrome…

I truly believe this will help to cure you.

In any case, you can take the course for nothing over on SkillShare. All the details on the course and how to get free access are here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/oop

Later,

John

February 4, 2019

Read this before another developer ruins your website

That’s the headline.

Of the most effective services sales page I ever ran. In fact, I ran it for years on my site before I whittled down to just one client. It’s easily brought in tens of 1000s of the greenbacks for me.

I don’t care what kind of web development you do…

This should be your headline.

It grabs the reader by the eyeballs…

And, forces them to read.

Because, it’s every client’s worst nightmare.

It’s like a car wreck, they can’t NOT look.

And, it works no matter what kind of services you offer.

Of course, you gotta follow it up correctly; otherwise, your potential client will quickly lose interest. So, next comes the “horror story”. For me, it’s Inc. Magazine and how they spent 2 years try to get their site built.

Went through several developers.

Spent lots and lots of money.

And, still had nothing.

This makes the fear REAL to your potential client.

Imagine being a client and hearing Inc. Magazine had that much trouble.

It makes your biggest fear suddenly very real. Now, at this point, you have them hooked and they’re in for the long haul to read your services page. But, you’re still not done. What comes next is the most crucial part.

It’s the transition from just scaring the crap out of them…

To actually selling your services.

AND, making your ad something they want to share, in and of itself.

With co-workers, employees, colleagues.

They’ll actually share YOUR ad.

It also establishes the criteria by which they’ll evaluate YOU as a developer. Criteria YOU get to establish. And then, conveniently meet in the rest of your sales page. “Set ’em up and knock ’em down” as they say.

At any rate, I just added a bonus lesson to my Beginner’s Guide to Freelance course that’s specifically for web developers. In it, I go through the services page I used all those years and the psychology behind it.

Plus, I give you the Word doc with all the copy in it.

If you’re a freelance web developer, you don’t want to miss this.

You can get started with the course on my free tutorial site here: https://johnsfreetuts.com/freelance

Later,

John​​​​​

February 1, 2019

Opening up Upwork this morning felt like winning the lottery

You’ve got a decision to make.

What kind of person are you going to be? 

Person A:​​​​​​​

2019-01-31_0721
Terry on YouTube

Or person B:

2019-01-31_0722
Miro on Facebook

I can tell you who’s going to get further in life. Who’s going to have more success as a freelancer. Who’s going to actually create the life they imagine for themselves. The funny thing about this is if you look at Miro… 

He very easily could’ve devolved into the same piss-poor attitude as Terry. He tried Upwork. And, his first attempt didn’t work out. 

He could have very easily just given up and became a troll who hunted down every Upwork video he could find so he could leave a negative comment.

And, crack snarky jokes that make him feel better about himself… 

But, do nothing to help him actually get anywhere in life. 

Like Terry. 

But, instead, he chose to keep fighting. 

Learn. 

Be humble. 

And, it led to him to get his first break. From there, it’s about doing good work, being honest, reliable, etc. I don’t know what’ll happen… But, I have a hunch that Miro’s attitude will carry him through. 

Anyway, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…

I’m not bullsh!@#ing you.

I know this stuff works, because I was in exactly the same spot as Miro. And, exactly the same thing happened to me.  You make the changes I show you and things just start happening. 

I’ve seen it over and over and over gain with my students. 

Anyway, if you wanna learn what the trick is, I teach it to you in my Freelancing on Upwork course. You can start taking the course on my free tutorial site at: https://johnsfreetuts.com/upwork101

Later,

John

January 31, 2019

Boring sales tactics that’ll get you more freelance clients

My older brother was an insurance agent.

If you don’t know, insurance is an uber-competitive industry because it has such huge profit margins. So, these people are dialed in when it comes to sales and getting new clients. I learned a ton from watching my him.

For example…

When he first started, his trainer had him write up a list of all the people he knew. He started with about 50 on his list. But, after some pushing and prodding, he got it up to about 300.

Then, he had him write letter to those people…

Letting them know he was in insurance…

And, he mailed it out.

He got his first few clients that way.

Then, they had him make up a flyer. Just a simple one-page deal with a little about him and the services he offered. And, told him to go door-to-door putting them inside people’s screen doors.

He paid my kids 8/hour to do it for him.

And, he got a few more clients.

Even better is what happened when a financial advisor moved into my neighborhood. He came to my door, introduced himself and pointed out where he lived and told me if I ever needed any financial advice to get in touch.

I didn’t, but I know few neighbors who did.

None of this stuff is secksy-sounding.

In fact, it’s downright boring.

But, it’s no coincidence that the most competitive industries on the planet have their new agents do this stuff. It works. And, whatever kind of freelancing you’re doing, you can probably do something similar.

But, there’s one thing my brother did that was by far the most boring.

In fact, I HATED doing it with him.

But, nearly every time I did…

I got a ​​​​​​lead on a new client.

There was maybe once or twice I didn’t in the dozens of times I did this with him. It’s no wonder this is the #1 thing new insurance agents, realtors, financial advisors and the like are encouraged to do.

It just plain works.

Anyway, I just uploaded a new bonus lesson to my Beginner’s Guide to Freelance course where I explain what it is and what you need to be prepared to do to get clients from this method.

You can start taking the course on my free tutorial site here: https://johnsfreetuts.com/freelance

Later,

John

January 30, 2019

How to triple what you charge per hour as a freelancer

Right after I built Platform University for Michael Hyatt.

He has a massive following online. And, a bunch of his acolytes wanted a membership site just like his. Well, turns out I was 1 of 2 people in the world that could build it for them. And, the other guy wasn’t taking clients.

So, I started getting a ton of quote requests for a “clone” of his site.

I charged 3K a piece for these sites.

But, I’d written the WordPress theme from scratch, myself. So, I had all the code. I knew exactly how to tweak it and set it all up. And, because they were seeking ME and I had a little more control…

I only allowed very few customizations.

All that meant each site only took me a few hours to build.

4-5 at most.

So, my “hourly rate” went from 100/hour to 600-700/hour.

Now, you might think…

“Okay great. But, that was this super unique thing and there’s no way I can replicate that.” Au contraire mon ami. It’s easily replicated. Yes, easily. Once you understand the dynamic and WHY it worked.

Replicating it is simple.

In fact, I’ve done it numerous times since.

And no, it’s not always 6-7 times the rate.

But, 3-4 times what you’re charging hourly… is easy to do.

Anyway, there’s 3 components that go into this to make it work. The more you get each right, the more you’ll see your rate per hour go up. If you’re interested in learning how, I have a bonus lesson in my Beginner’s Guide to Freelance course…

That will teach you those 3 components and how to put them together.

Plus, you can take it for nothing over on SkillShare.

All the details on that are here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/freelance

Later,

John

January 29, 2019

The prostitute principle

This guy I know…

Ahem…

Once told me that veteran prostitutes demand their money upfront. Because they’ve learned the hard way that once a client gets what they want, they’re a lot more likely to walk away without paying.

And, there’s not a lot they can do.

Sound familiar?

Oddly enough, I’ve never had a client flake like that. I guess growing up like I did, I always had that “b!@#$ better have my money” mentality. So, I came up with a system for getting paid that ensured I got mine…

But, didn’t require the client to pay 100% upfront…

So, they don’t get scared off.

And, kept them comfortable throughout…

So they KEEP paying.

Best part, for me, is it also weeds out the tire-kickers and freebie-seekers so I only deal with people who are serious about hiring me and I know will have the money to actually pay for the project.

Because I can’t stand that B.S. 

Anyway, I teach the method I use in my Beginner’s Guide to Freelance course. You can start taking the course on my free tutorial site here: https://www.johnsfreetuts.com/freelance.

Later,

John

January 28, 2019

JMS388: Global Game Jam and Staying Focused In a World Full of Distractions

Just uploaded a new episode of the podcast. Here’s the breakdown:

Do you know about the Global Game Jam? It’s a challenge/event to create games in one weekend in hundreds of locations worldwide. Anyway, chat about that and how to stay laser-focused in a world full of distractions and chaos. Specifically, that focus is NOT about discipline or will power and the 3 things you need to do to stay focused no matter what’s happening around you.

Give it a listen here: https://www.johnmorrisshow.com/jms388-global-game-jam-and-staying-focused-in-a-world-full-of-distractions/

January 25, 2019

How to stay focused

I got this question from Tim:

“Staying focused and effective in business under extreme external pressure?”

When I asked what he meant by “extreme external pressure”, he said:

“[An] ex-wife who burned everything down. Ruined my closest business and personal relationships, and put me into complete financial ruin. With intent. So deep DEEP financial and personal stress has left me flailing and I am a month and a half into my first real opportunity for recovery. I feel a lack of clarity as to the best course of action to push my head above water for good. To focus on the work (which I am damn good at) instead of the stay alive struggle.”

Damn.

This one hits close to home for me.

My pain was dealing with feeling like I’d abandoned my oldest son when his mom and I got divorced coupled with this gnawing feeling inside of me that I was meant for more than pizza boy or telemarketer.

It’s hard to keep focused…

And, not let these things consume you.

But, here’s what I do.

I just keep saying, “Left”.

That might not make sense, at first, but let me tell you where it comes from. As you may know, I was in the Army for 10 years. And, during Basic Training, one of the final “events” before you graduate is a road march.

What they don’t tell you is it’s meant as a test of your mental toughness.

We’d done road marches before, but nothing like this.

We were up and marching before the sun came up and we marched long after the sun went back down. In full combat gear, 40-pound rucksack. At about hour 3, the straps from the rucksack started to feel like knives slicing into my shoulders.

By hour 5, I was arguing with myself about quitting…

And, getting recycled all the way back through the 9 weeks of Basic Training.

By hour 7, I didn’t even have the energy to do that.

At some point, my mind just stopped. All the false motivation, all the little “tricks” to get myself to keep moving, all the debating… it all just stopped. And, all that was left me and the next step I had to take.

Yes or no.

Yes or no.

Yes or no.

For hours.

And, what I did was I just kept saying “Left” every time my left foot hit the ground, just like we did when we marched in formation. “Left, left, left.” And, I just focused on that. That one next step.

And eventually, it ended. We rounded the corner to an open field.

There was a big bonfire waiting for us.

We took off all our gear.

And, celebrated because that was our last test.

And, that’s it. All you can do is focus on the very next step in front of you. People make the mistake of thinking focus is about will power. It’s not. It’s about motion. You take one step, the next one becomes more clear.

And another and another…

With each one, you become more focused.

Staying focused becomes more natural.

And before you know it, you’re sprinting.

So, you just gotta keep moving. Don’t think about everything that’s happened. None of that matters NOW. You have the hand you’ve been dealt, now you have to play it. Don’t think about the next 100 steps in front of you.

You don’t even know what most of those are.

And, they’ll change along the way.

What’s the best step you can take RIGHT NOW with the information you have.

And then, step.

NOW, what’s the next best step I can take?

And, the next… and, the next.

That’s how I live my life.

And that’s how I stay focused.

And, ignore everything else swirling around me.

And, it’s worked pretty damn well, so far.

So, there you go.

Take that for what it’s worth.

If you have a question, you’d like me to answer, just leave me a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer it.

And, of course, when it comes to web development, I’m here to help you take some of those steps with my training curriculum. HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, MySQL… it’s all in there. And, you can access it for nothing over on my free tutorial site here: https://johnsfreetuts.com

Later,

John

January 24, 2019